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Doctor Who: Inferno (Story 54)

4.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Doctor Who: Inferno (Episode 54) (Dbl DVD)

An unsuccessful trial run with the Tardis console throws the Doctor into a parallel universe where his old friends are rather nasty characters.


An experiment gone awry sends the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) to a parallel universe where his friends and companions are members of a fascist regime in this thrilling and popular episode from the long-running British science fiction series Doctor Who. Inferno is the name of a project designed to drill into the Earth's core and release a powerful energy source called Stahlman's Gas; what's yielded instead is an insidious substance that transforms men into monsters. The resulting chaos interrupts the Doctor's travel in the TARDIS and knocks him into an alternate Earth run by a military dictatorship, and where Project Inferno's progress threatens to bring about an apocalypse. This seven-part story arc from 1970 is a high-water mark for the already superb Pertwee-era Doctor, a tense, imaginative adventure that evokes the U.K.'s chilling Quatermass TV productions and movies in its mix of science fiction and horror. Fans will particularly appreciate the opportunities afforded to longtime Who supporting players Nicholas Courtney (as the Brigadier) and Caroline John (as the Doctor's companion Liz) to step outside their usual roles and essay memorably villainous turns as their parallel-Earth selves.

The double-disc presentation of Inferno offers the by-now-standard wealth of extras, including commentary by Courtney, script editor Terrance Dicks, producer/director Barry Letts, and co-star John Levene (Sgt. Benton) and lengthy featurettes on the making of the story and the UNIT brigade during Pertwee's tenure (the latter featuring interviews with much of the supporting cast and crew). A short deleted scene from the episode (featuring Pertwee in a rare second turn as the voice of a radio announcer), a promo film for the BBC Visual Effects Department (which features clips from the Who stories Ambassadors of Death, Caves of Steel, and a missing episode from Doomwatch), and PDF files of the 1971 Doctor Who Annual and Radio Times round out the supplemental features. --Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jon Pertwee, Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney, John Levene
  • Directors: Douglas Camfield
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 166 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,849 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: Inferno (Story 54)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on October 20, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
The last story of the Doctor's seventh season is the 7-part Inferno, one the best in the show's history. At a research facility, the Doctor is observing the efforts of the arrogant and unpleasant Professor Stahlman as he attempts to penetrate the Earth's crust in order to gain alternative energy source known as Stahlman's gas. The problem is, his efforts might lead to the destruction of the Earth, but it's all about him and forget the others, including Sir Keith Gold, the administrator in charge. Then there's a greenish ooze that when touched, causes people to turn green and into murderous ape-like Primords, and radiate such intense heat that whatever they touch feels as if it came from a furnace. That is what the Brigadier and UNIT are here for. All this time, penetration zero is hours away from happening, and to make matters worse, Stahlman is infected with the ooze and also sabotages the computer so he cannot be opposed by the Doctor, UNIT, or Sir Keith.
During an experiment, the Doctor is propelled into a parallel Earth where Britain is ruled by a bureaucratic and fascist dictatorship: "Proper bureaucrat, aren't you? Can't shoot me unless you fill in all the forms?" He is horrified to see his friends Liz, Benton, and the Brigadier in Nazi-type uniforms, and far from the pleasant people he knew on his Earth. The most striking effect is the Brigadier, here the Brigade Leader, sans mustache, with a black patch over his left eye, a scar running down his left cheek. The Stahlman of that world succeeds in penetrating the Earth's crust, which eventually causes the planet's destruction. It is up to the Doctor to return to his Earth to avert such a disaster from happening.
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Format: VHS Tape
This could possibly be the best Dr Who story ever made. It's a compelling, disturbing and very human tale that, although 7 episodes long, never drags (in fact, it seems very rushed). The performances are all topline, the direction by Douglas Camfield superb and the music and sound effects very jarring. The parallel Earth scenes, in which England is run by a fascist government (a "what if the Nazis won" scenario), have a depressing, sterile, Orwellian feel; all the central characters have two roles, their "normal" selves and their parallel personas give them all added depth. Top marks to the Nicholas Courtney as the Brigade Leader. Small touches, such as certain pieces of conversational dialogue played out twice, once in the normal Earth and once in the parallel world, make a substantial impact on the viewer. The Doctor being placed in a situation where he cannot save the Earth (or one Earth) is quite haunting when you consider that "saving the day" becomes predictable to the point of cliche. At the end of the story you can't help feeling emotionally drained; the deaths of well defined characters and their parallel selves surviving plays with your feelings, making you both mourn and rejoice. Like the case with much of Dr Who, the monsters are not often well realised. The Primords have their moments, but just try not to think of the Bee Gees when they start rampaging in the later episodes! Best moments - the cliff hanger to episode 4 and the "doomsday" sequences at the end of episode 6. This is must own Dr Who!
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Format: DVD

JUMPING JEHOSOPHAT! Imagine a sci-fi story with twice the potential for world armageddon, and that's what you have in INFERNO, a 7 part Dr. Who serial from Jon Pertwee's run as the interfering Timelord. Usually the story arcs longer than 4 parts, suffer from attempts to stretch out the episodes with padding and material that neither advances the story nor does it serve any real purpose. INFERNO, I'm happy to say is not one of those stories.

The top-secret drilling project called "Inferno", is intended to penetrate the Earth's crust and release limitless energy for the world. Hungry for success the "powers that be " ignore warnings about the possible dangers of the project, some warnings coming from the Doctor, currently in his 3rd incarnation and exiled by his people, the Timelords,to Earth of the 20th century. While the Doctor still hopes to escape the confines of one planet, one time, by borrowing some of the power from the "Inferno" project. As unpaid scientific adviser to the paramilitary organization UNIT, or the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, he is frequently in the position to help them save the human race, most often from themselves. Although this is one time he only half-succeeds in averting world destruction. While the project proceeds in its attempt to drill over 20 miles through the Earth's crust, to tap the gas beneath it, a series of events begin leading to the end of the world, maybe two.
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